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Anglican Unscripted Episode 101: July 7, 2014 July 7, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, South Carolina.
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Published on Jul 7, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate

00:00 Australia Dumps Seal of Confession
05:52 Breaking News from South Carolina with AS Haley

Franklin Huntress abuse charges reinstated: The Church of England Newspaper, June 13, 2014 June 26, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Massachusetts, The Episcopal Church.
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The Supreme Court of New Hampshire has reinstated criminal charges brought against an Episcopal priest for child abuse. On 30 May 2014 the Supreme Court ruled the trial court did not have the authority to dismiss charges against the Rev. Franklin L. Huntress and ordered the matter for trial. First arrested by Lincolnshire Police in 1994 for child abuse, Huntress was arrested in July 2011 following a grand jury indictment for having sexually assaulted a child under the age of 13 in January 1984 and April 1985. Claims the then 77-year-old priest molested a child in 1974 prompted an investigation by the Diocese of Massachusetts that revealed Huntress had been arrested by police for abusing a child in 1994 while service as vicar of St Matthew’s Church in Skegness. However, the Diocese of Massachusetts said it had not been “contacted by either civil or Church authorities in England regarding the 1994 charges there.” The Diocese of Lincoln confirmed Huntress had been arrested, but the “charges were dropped and the detail and the circumstances were unclear.” Huntress’ file “had been destroyed as part of a previous archive policy” at the time Massachusetts had requested “further information”, a spokesman said. Ordained in 1962, Huntress served parishes in the US and from 1965 to 1967 at St Mary’s, Chester, from 1967-1971 at Waltham Abbey in Essex, from 1975 to 1979 at St Gabriel’s Abbey in Leicester, and from 1991 to 1994 at St Matthew’s in Skegness.

Overseas church pleas to free Boko Haram captives: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Overseas church leaders have joined the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev. Justin Welby in calling for the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. On 7 May 2014 Archbishop Welby denounced the kidnapping as an “atrocious and inexcusable act” and appealed to Boko Haram to “release them immediately and unharmed.” In a sermon given on 5 May 2014 the Archbishop of Cape Town the Most. Rev. Thabo Makgoba called for “all of Africa, and especially South Africa” to rise up and demand their release.  “We are one continent and these girls are our children,” he said. The Archbishop of Canada the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz said the “declared intention” of Boko Haram “to sell them in the market is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.” On 8 May 2014 the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said her church was “horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.” Bishop Jefferts Schori said the “necessary response” to the kidnappings was “education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.”

Gene Robinson to divorce: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Gene Robinson has announced that he is divorcing his spouse Mark Andrew. In a column printed in the Daily Beast on 3 Mary 2014, Bishop Robinson stated: “Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life—coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom’s first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles.” The Episcopal Church’s first “out” gay bishop, in 1986 Bishop Robinson divorced his wife and made public his sexual orientation. His election as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 precipitated the crack up of the Anglican Communion, leading to a majority of the church’s provinces to break or qualify their relationship with the Episcopal Church.  The bishop noted that there was “at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples. All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of “til death do us part.” But not all of us are able to see this through until death indeed parts us.”

Episcopal Church’s ecclesiology incoherent, report finds: The Church of England Newspaper, May 9, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in ARCIC, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The lack of an authoritative universal magisterium for Anglicans prevents Catholics and the Episcopal Church of the USA from holding a common moral theology and ecclesiology, a document prepared by the US Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue commission has concluded. Released on 22 April 2014 “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Seeking a Unified Moral Witness, represented “the latest landmark in our journey together as churches, and is a valuable contribution to an important topic,” commission co-chairman Bishop John  Bauerschmidt said. However, the document concluded that future ecumenical progress was unlikely as the “absence of an authoritative universal magisterium among the churches of the Anglican Communion marks a signal difference in the structure of teaching authority. … Without such a universal teaching authority it is difficult to state definitively the teaching Anglicans hold on many specific matters, beyond the governing documents and prayer book of each particular church. This fact marks a signal difference in the structure of teaching authority from the Roman Catholic Church and helps to explain a significant tension in the relationship between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.” In their conclusion the commission stated: “It is hard to see how our differences in moral theology and ecclesiology will be resolved, and it is not clear to many whether they should be.”

Georgia gun ban misfires: The Church of England Newspaper, May 9, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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An American bishop has banned the possession of firearms on all church properties following the enactment of a state law permitting churches to regulate handguns in churches. On 28 April 2014 the Bishop of Atlanta, the Rt. Rev. Robert Wright issued a pastoral directive to the diocese stating: “My judgment, charge and directive – as the ecclesiastical or governing authority, of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, is that with the exception of on-duty law enforcement officers, firearms are not permitted in church buildings or on church property.” Issued in response to a Georgia law which permits licensed gun owners to bring firearms into the state’s churches, provided that an individual place of worship allows it, the bishop’s letter extends the ban to all church property – including rectories.  Canon lawyers believe the bishop’s letter oversteps his authority. Allan Haley noted the statute makes the “governing authority of the place of worship the entity to decide whether guns shall be allowed.” However, the “governing authority of a parish is it’s rector and vestry, not the bishop. Even the cathedral is governed by its dean and not the bishop” under canon law, he noted. What the bishop has done here is assume authority that he does not have under the national canons, and which the statute does not grant him,” Mr. Haley said.

Fort Worth court win: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas courts have handed the Episcopal Church of the USA a loss in its dispute with the Diocese of Fort Worth, rejecting its plea for a rehearing of its case that the diocese should not be allowed to quit the national church and returning a $100,000 bond to the diocese and lifting the requirement that it provide a monthly accounting to the national church. On 24 April 2014 the 141st District Court in Fort Worth agreed to move forward with a new trial in the property suit brought five years ago by the national church against the diocese five years ago. The attorney for Fort Worth Scott Brister, a retired Texas Supreme Court judge, noted, “The judge ruled with us. It’s time to move forward and finish this suit.” The Rt. Rev.  Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth commented that this as a “great encouragement to us, and we look forward to the day when all these legal proceedings are behind us and we can get on with the mission of the Church without the distraction of litigation.” In August the court will likely consider motions for summary judgment, which if granted, would resolve the dispute in favor of the diocese.

Supreme Court denies leave to appeal to St Aidan’s: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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The Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to appeal requested by the congregation of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in Windsor in its dispute with the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Huron over the ownership of the church’s building and assets. The decision lets stand a September 2013 decision b the Court of Appeal which upheld the ruling of the trial court granting ownership to the diocese and awarding the diocese C$100,000 in costs. Writing in the Anglican Network in Canada’s Newsletter, St Aidan’s rector the Rev.  Canon Tom Carman noted: “Yes, sadly the Supreme Court has decided not to grant us leave to appeal.  It’s not really surprising – not from a human standpoint – but we were hoping for a miracle.  Sometimes, though, God simply calls us to bear reproach for his name’s sake.  And we know that in the end our reward is with Him and in Him.  He will see us through this. Please do continue to keep us in your prayers.”

Trinity Wall Street’s Wal-Mart suit dismissed: The Church of England Newspaper, April 18, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A Federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the parish of Trinity Wall Street against the Wal-Mart Corporation, which sought to compel the company to distribute proxy material at its 22 April 2014 shareholders meeting that called for the company’s board to regulate the sale of products that offend “family values.” The Episcopal parish in lower Manhattan, whose real estate assets and investments are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, on 1 April filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Delaware asking the court to overturn Wal-Mart’s refusal to allow the proxy to come before the meeting. The church alleged that the sale of products by Wal-Mart such as ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds or music that endorses violence and sex harmed the company’s market value. On 11 April the judge ruled the Securities and Exchange Commission staff already had said Wal-Mart was not obligated to accept the parish’s proposal, and had not demonstrated the SEC ruling was erroneous.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 99, May 17, 2014 May 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Serbian Orthodox, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on May 17, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate

Story Index
00:00 Twitter Diplomacy
11:37 No More Religion Reporters
18:57 Jersey Shore Gate
36:37 The Greatest Lawsuit in History
43:00 The Evilest Bishop of All Time (so far)
49:16 Closing and Behind the Scenes

Anglican Unscripted Episode 98, May 10, 2014 May 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on May 10, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate

Story Index
00:00 Peace over Repentance
14:29 Symptoms vs. Disease
22:36 Submit or Die
28:30 Legal News with AS Haley
37:08 Peter Ould on the Anglican Communion
46:35 Closing and Bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 97, April 25, 2014 May 17, 2014

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Published on Apr 25, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate

STORY INDEX
00:00 Blame the Africans
11:07 Anglicans not swimming Tiber’s
16:42 the IRS and you
26:06 Radical Islam want’s you dead.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 96, April 7, 2014 May 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX
00:00 Hard Choices
23:19 St Justin the Hesitant
32:00 Peter Ould
43:07 AS Haley
50:43 Closing and Bloopers

SC accepts Global South supervision: The Church of England Newspaper, April 11, 2014 May 10, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The 223rd annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has voted to accept an offer of temporary archiepiscopal oversight from the Global South Primates Steering Committee. On 15 March 2014 the delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer made in the February Cairo Communique of the GS Primates, while also aligning itself with the GAFCON movement. In his speech to the convention, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said “this will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within the Communion: one wihc includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.” In 2012 the diocesan convention voted to quit the Episcopal Church in response to disputes over doctrine and disciple with the New York based national office, which led to moves to dismiss Bishop Lawrence from the ministry.

Cathedral development sparks protests: The Church of England Newspaper, April 11, 2014 May 10, 2014

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Protests over plans by Manhattan’s Cathedral of St John the Divine to build luxury flats on its precincts sparked a demonstration last week led by local political leaders, who charged developing the 11 acre site was sacrilegious, while community activists charged building a 430-flat tower block would drastically alter the community. “The cathedral’s being an atrocious neighbor,” said  State Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell. “They just want to make the most money possible, and if you just want to make the most money possible, you are a for-profit real estate developer and should be treated as such by the law.” U.S. Congressman Jerald Nadler (D. NY) it was an outrage that the cathedral would seek a short term solution that would negatively impact the neighborhood in its search for cash. “Can you imagine this happening beside the Notre Dame?” the congressman asked the New York Daily News. However, the Very Rev. James Kowalski, told the New York Times developing the property was necessary to help cover the shortfall in its $12 million annual budget. The question facing the cathedral chapter was “if the cathedral was not supposed to be like a Salisbury Cathedral in the middle of land but an urban cathedral with buildings that had been built and were deteriorating, what would be the best use of the land to advance the mission of the cathedral,” the dean said.

TEC appeal dismissed in SC: The Church of England Newspaper, April 4, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina appeals court has dismissed the appeal of the Episcopal Church and its allies in the Diocese of South Carolina, seeking review of a lower court order rejecting the national church’s demand that attorneys for the diocese turn over copies of their correspondence with the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.  A spokesman for the diocese stated they were “grateful” the court had dismissed the appeal. “Their strategy of using legal motions to delay court decisions caused eight months to be wasted when they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction. As in that matter, the courts sided with the Diocese of South Carolina,” Canon Jim Lewis said. The ruling renders moot a motion filed by the diocese last month for the state Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over the appeal and return the dispute to the trial docket, which is scheduled to adjudicate the case in July.

Texas Supreme Court rejects TEC appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court has rejected the petition of the Episcopal Church in the Texas property cases, denying a rehearing of its dispute with the Diocese of Fort Worth and a parish in the Diocese of Northwest Texas that had seceded from its diocese.  The 21 March 2014 ruling sends the disputes back to the trial courts with instructions to adjudicate the case without reference to church canon law, looking only at civil property law. “We are greatly relieved by the finality of the Court’s ruling,” said the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. “TEC’s rehearing strategy has delayed us from moving on with this case by more than six months and at the cost of several thousands of dollars to oppose it. My advice is that TEC cut its losses and get on with their life without the Diocese of Fort Worth. Their litigation strategy has failed.”

South Carolina accepts archepiscopal oversight from Global South: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Global South, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The 223rd annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has voted to accept an offer of temporary archiepiscopal oversight from the Global South Primates Steering Committee. On 15 March 2014 the delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer made in the February Cairo Communique of the GS Primates, while also aligning itself with the GAFCON movement. In his speech to the convention, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said “this will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within the Communion: one wihc includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.” In 2012 the diocesan convention voted to quit the Episcopal Church in response to disputes over doctrine and disciple with the New York based national office, which led to moves to dismiss Bishop Lawrence from the ministry.

Misconduct charges filed against Presiding Bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A Washington-based conservative group, the American Anglican Fellowship has filed charges against the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, alleging he $30 million legal campaign against church conservatives is an abuse of office and violates church canons. The organizations website stated that on 19 December 2013, it filed “information with the Intake Officer concerning possible violations of the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons by the Presiding Bishop … We acted only after prayer consideration, and exhausting all reasonable means of communication to the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council. Our letters went unanswered and letters from other organizations, including letters form five bishops and a petition signed by more than 5000 Christians remained unanswered. The Intake Officer will decide if the information, if true, constitutes a violation of the Canons. We await his decision.” Public comment from the national church on the merits of the charges is unlikely as the disciplinary process requires the parties to remain silent while a review is underway

Supreme Court declines cert in Falls Church appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal from the Virginia Supreme Court over the case of The Falls Church v. the Episcopal Church of the USA, ending seven years of litigation over the ownership of $13 million of property and assets of what had been the Diocese of Virginia’s largest congregation. After relisting the case for its conference four times, the case failed to garner the support of five of the court’s nine justices to allow it to be adjudicated. The decision not to hear the case leaves the state of American Church property law unsettled with the state supreme courts divided over the interpretation of the US Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Jones v. Wolf, with some states granting priority to canon law while other states have granted priority to civil property law and have allowed congregations who own their property to quit the church and take their buildings with them.

Terry Fullam dead at 83: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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One of the founders of the Charismatic Renewal Movement in the United States, the Rev. Everett “Terry” Fullam has died at the age of 83, reports the Bishop of Central Florida. In a 15 March 2014 Tweet to his diocese, the Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer wrote “Just heard that Terry Fullam passed away. A generation ago he was a hero.” Trained as a musician, Terry Fullam was educated at Gordon College and Harvard University and was ordained in 1967 by the Bishop of Rhode Island after studying privately for holy orders.  In 1972 he was appointed Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Conn. During his tenure at St Paul’s, (1972-1989) the parish saw significant revival and became one of the fastest growing churches in America.  A 1980 book about his ministry at St. Paul written by Bob Slosser, entitled Miracle in Darien brought his ministry to worldwide attention, and remains one of the most influential books on church renewal in the Protestant world. Upon retirement, Terry Fullam moved to Ormond Beach, Fla., and remained an active teacher and preacher. A 1998 stroke forced him to discontinue his ministry.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 95: March 21, 2014 March 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX
00:00 The Pope a year in review
10:00 Global South adopts Diocese of South Carolina
18:10 ABC Canterbury year in review with Peter Ould
29:11 Why would anybody bring charges against Saint Schori?
38:14 R.I.P Terry Fullam
45:57 Closing and Bloopers

Supreme Court intervention requested in the South Carolina case: The Church of England Newspaper, March 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has asked the state’s Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over its dispute with the Episcopal Church and its allies, arguing the national church has been pursuing a legal strategy designed solely to “interfere with the purpose of a speedy and inexpensive resolution.”

Lawyers for the diocese on 6 Feb 2014 filed the motion after the national church appealed a ruling by the trial court that rejected its request the diocese turn over all copies of correspondence between Bishop Mark Lawrence and his attorneys. American law forbids discovery of such correspondence as being protected by attorney-client privilege. The national church had argued that as they were the true diocese and thus the client, they could waive the privilege on Bishop Lawrence’s behalf.

Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the request, prompting the appeal from the national church. Under South Carolina law the judge’s interlocutory order is not normally subject to appeal, however while the appeals court rules on the motion the proceedings in the trial court halt.

In its 24 Jan 2014 appeal of Judge Goodstein’s ruling the national church said it should have access to the correspondence between the bishop and the diocese’s attorneys. It argued “in this dispute where both sides claim to be the one and only continuing Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina after the split in late 2012, the Respondents’ exclusive possession and access to the prior legal positions of the then-unified Diocese gives the Respondents an unfair informational advantage. The fact that the same lawyer is now representing the Respondents in this litigation only compounds that unfairness.”

A diocesan spokesman said the Episcopal Church and its local allies, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina were “misusing the judicial system to delay resolution of this case.”

“Their strategy of appealing an interlocutory order is evidence of that intent. This is the same strategy that caused eight months to be wasted at the start of this case in federal court where they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction.”

The national church and its supporters also filed an appeal with the Federal Court on 5 Feb asking for a review of its January decision not to take jurisdiction over the dispute.

“We are disappointed in TEC’s appeal, but it does not surprise us,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese. “The Episcopal Church has a long history of dragging out legal battles in hopes of draining the resources of parishes and dioceses it seeks to punish for leaving the denomination,” he said.

Since 2000 the national church has incurred approximately $34 million in prosecuting 83 lawsuits and defending itself in seven church property lawsuits.

Episcopal Church to put more money into the indaba project: The Church of England Newspaper, February 21, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA has asked the church’s executive council to give an extra $312,000 to the Anglican Consultative Council to support the work of the continuing indaba process.

At its meeting last week, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori proposed increasing the three year grant approved by the 2012 General Convention from $700,000 to $1,012,000. Unless the grant were increased, the presiding bishop noted, the US church would only contribute $25,000 to the ACC in 2015, as it had budgeted giving $675,000 to the London-based organization for 2013 and 2014.

Organized by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, indaba is a project of facilitated conversations between the US and Canadian churches and the churches in the developing world. Organized and staffed by the Anglican Consultative Council in London, the project has come under fierce criticism from conservatives and has been denounced by the Gafcon movement for its perceived bias in favor of the progressive agenda.

While the proposal is likely to be approved by the October meeting of the executive council which will set the budget for 2015, the request highlights a growing split between the General Convention and the executive council over the limits of authority within the church.

The amount budgeted for the ACC was the subject of strong debate at the 2012 General Convention with many deputies to the meeting questioning the value for money provided by the ACC. Unilaterally raising the ACC budget by the executive council follows its rejection of the General Convention’s vote to sell the New York office building that houses the presiding bishop and her staff, and relocate to a cheaper and more centrally located facility.

 

Concerns over archbishop’s accolades for Katharine Jefferts Schori: The Church of England Newspaper, February 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has applauded the news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford.

However, the fulsome praise offered by the archbishop has pained conservatives, who see his commendation of her “intellect and compassion” to be a slap in the face to traditionalists.

On 6 Feb 2014 the University announced that Bishop Jefferts Schori would be one of six people awarded an honorary degree at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony, on 25 June 2014.

In a statement from Lambeth Palace released later that day, Archbishop Welby said he was “delighted” by the news.

He went on to say: “This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ. Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, “In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.” It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”

Commentators questioned the wisdom of the archbishop’s penning such a statement, fearing it would alienate the overseas church and conservatives in the UK and US. However, in a post on Facebook defending Archbishop Welby’s actions, Bishop Pete Broadbent dismissed concerns that the statement reflected a shift in favor of the revisionist wing of the church by the archbishop.

“Lots of us here think that [Katharine Jefferts Schori] is thoroughly bad news for the gospel, but you’re not going to get the ABC to slag her off in a press release. It just ain’t that simple. You can’t really stick out a release saying “Congrats, but…” Most congratulatory things smarm it up a bit. You might think ABC shouldn’t have said congrats at all (knowing that Oxford have been put up to this), but once you go down the line of doing official congrats, you have to be nice. Cos that’s how Brits do it,” he explained.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 94, March 7, 2014 March 8, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of Uganda, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 Can Jesus bake cake?
06:54 Imagine there is no Episcopal Church
14:14 Ashes to choke on
19:19 How to clarify an secular interview
21:50 closing and bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 93, February 21, 2014 February 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 A House in Wisconsin
16:08 Interview with Bishop Salmon
24:28 Where’s Welby?
30:27 Agnostics Have Theology
44:50 The New Iron Lady
49:10 Facebook Diplomacy
53:22 Closing and Bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 91, February 8, 2014 February 8, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Feb 8, 2014
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 The New Oxford Movement
15:44 Elephant Politics
21:42 AS Haley on South Carolina
31:00 The perfect answer for Immigration
39:35 Closing and Bloopers

Final arguments presented in San Joaquin case: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
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The legality of the secession of a California diocese from the from the Episcopal Church is in the hands of California Judge Donald Black following  the closing arguments presented to the Fresno Superior Court last week.

On 13 Jan 2014 the videotaped testimony of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield who presided over the 2007 vote by the diocesan synod to quit the Episcopal Church was presented to the court.  Bishop Schofield, who died in October 2013, testified in the 2011 recording to his actions surrounding the diocesan vote to amend its amend its constitution and canons to replace language acceding to the Episcopal Church’s constitution with language that affiliated the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

In 2008 the national church and loyalists members of the diocese brought suit against Bishop Schofield and various parishes, seeking to acquire control of all church properties. The breakaway diocese has argued that the diocese’s actions conformed to secular and ecclesiastical law.  Attorneys for the national church have argued that while the church’s constitution does not forbid the secession of dioceses, a ban on quitting is implied in the church’s governing documents.

Judge Black ordered the parties to file their final briefs on 24 Feb 2014, and their reply briefs on 17 March 2014. A decision is expected from the court by late summer.

Plea to hold bishop liable for secession from the Episcopal Church dismissed: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has dismissed a motion brought by the national Episcopal Church to add in his personal capacity, Bishop Mark Lawrence, and three diocesan officials to the lawsuit over the Diocese of South Carolina’s properties.

On 30 December 2013, Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s argument that Bishop Lawrence and the other church leaders should be made personally responsible for the secession of the diocese from the national Church. The court found there was no reason to single out specific members of the clergy for a vote taken by the diocese as a whole.

The court also dismissed a request by the national Church for an order barring loyalists in the diocese from saying they were the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The matter has been set down for trial in July.

Diocesan spokesman Canon Jim Lewis said: “We are grateful that Judge Goodstein dismissed this most recent effort to harass our people with time-consuming, expensive litigation,” adding the “the judge’s decision ends the legal fishing expedition and forces all to focus on the only issue that matters: whether our religious freedom is protected.”

Where’s the religion at Washington’s National Cathedral?: Get Religion, January 16, 2014 January 16, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, The Episcopal Church, Washington.
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The financial difficulties facing the Washington National Cathedral were the subject of a local news item in the Washington Post this week.

The basic story line is valid: “cathedral short of cash seeks creative ways to generate income.” But as  GetReligion editor tmatt observed in an an impromptu story conference, this piece had journalistic “holes you can drive a ’60s VW Microbus through… .”

The few errors in Anglican polity found in the story would likely distress only the perpetually aggrieved, but the real difficulty is that the Post declined to ask or explore the question: “why?”

It assumes the worldview of the liberal wing of mainline churches, making this the measure of all things religious. By not asking “why” this story could just as well be written about the troubles facing the local symphony orchestra or art museum.

I was hesitant in taking this story, however, as my theological sympathies are not with the cathedral’s leadership. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Diocese of Washington’s cathedral, last year told the Post he was a “non-theistic Christian.” The Aug 1, 2013 story in the Style section penned by Sally Quinn quoted him as saying:

Jesus doesn’t use the word God very much,” he says. “He talks about his Father.”

Hall explains: “Where I am now, how do I understand Jesus as a son of God that’s not magical? I’m trying to figure out Jesus as a son of God and a fully human being, if he has both fully human and a fully divine set of chromosomes. .?.?. He’s not some kind of superman coming down. God is present in all human beings. Jesus was an extraordinary human being. Jesus didn’t try to convert. He just had people at his table.”

It is the glory, or the curse, of Anglicanism that the ranks of its clergy contain men and women who think this way — and others who see this as nonsense.

The divide is not merely local or new — in 2009 I interviewed the Argentine leader of the Anglican churches in southern South America and he told me that meaningful debate between left and right was not possible. He and his conservative colleagues from Africa, India and Asia believed the leader of the American Episcopal church was “not a Christian” as they understood the term.

The disdain does not go one way. Liberal American and English Anglicans have described the theological and intellectual worldview of their third world confreres as being one step above witchcraft.

The split between left and right, liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists — none of these terms adequately describes the combatants — did not arise in 2003 with the election of a “gay” bishop in the Episcopal Church. While there have always been factions within the Anglican world for centuries — high/low, Evangelical/Anglo-Catholic — the latest Anglican wars began in the 30s and hit their stride in the 60s.

Fights over women clergy, premarital sex, abortion, euthanasia, contraception/family planning, divorce and remarriage, pacifism, the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, Vietnam and the civil rights movement and its various permutations of race, gender, class, ethnicity and sexual orientation have been debated ever since.

The temptation I faced was to cloak my criticisms of the underlying issues in the story with the cover of discussing proper journalism and write about bad religion rather than bad journalism. Hence, my reluctance to jump on this story.

What then is the GetReligion angle? What holes are there in this story through which I may drive my VW microbus? The lede states:

When Congress authorized the creation of Washington National Cathedral in 1893, it envisioned a national spiritual home. Decades later, it became a setting for presidential funerals, sermons by the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and worship services for epic national tragedies such as Newtown and Sept. 11.

But would it have thought of tai chi and yoga mats?

The article describes a program of events and activities designed to bring people into the cathedral. The story then moves to context:

As mellow as it all sounds, the week-long public program — “Seeing Deeper” — is part of a highly orchestrated drive by the nation’s second-largest cathedral to remake itself and survive in an era when religious institutions are struggling. And what’s more institutional than a huge cathedral?

Washington National Cathedral, one of the Episcopal Church’s three major U.S. cathedrals, was already forced to halve its $27 million budget in the mid-2000s because of falling revenue before an earthquake in 2011 caused damage tallying an additional $26 million. Although it is now in the black, it must raise its roughly $13 million annual operating budget as well as the remaining $19 million for earthquake repairs.

And then moves to a discussion of the dean’s plans to raise income and attendance and to be a voice for progressive values in Washington.

What is missing from this story, though, is a nod to the reasons for the cash shortfall — apart from the occasional earthquake and economic downturn.

The article makes this assertion:

Experts say cathedrals across Europe and the United States have had to remake themselves as religious affiliation has become much looser and financial models built on membership have broken down.

But we do not hear from the experts. Is this true for all cathedrals, or just Episcopal ones? How is the Catholic cathedral in Washington doing? How are other Episcopal cathedrals handling the new faith environment Dean Hall describes in the piece? These questions should have been raised, or at least acknowledged.

Where are the facts and figures about the Washington National Cathedral’s attendance and income? They are easily found on the national Episcopal Church’s website. It reports “pledge and plate income”, the amount of money the cathedral (whose formal name is the Cathedral of SS Peter & Paul) collected from its parishioners has grown from $400,000 p.a. in 2002 to $2 million in $2012.

At the same time Sunday attendance grew over the last ten years. The figures for Dean Hall’s first year in office have not been published, but should not the story have spoken to these issues.

And, have the Anglican wars played a part in the cathedral’s financial problems? While the amount of money generated by those worshiping on site has grown, giving to support the cathedral from the wider Episcopal world has fallen off. Why?  The article states fundraising was easier for the cathedral when it sought to finish construction — an 82 year building campaign.

Could the cathedral’s whole-hearted adoption of the progressive religious and political agenda have anything to do with the little old ladies in Alabama cutting back on their gifts? The article does not ask this question.

As written, the article could have described the problems facing any graying urban institution. Swap out the names and you could recycle this as a story about an art museum, library, orchestra, ballet or other worthy cultural institution. Perhaps the real story here is that the Washington National Cathedral is not seen as a religious institution by the Post but as a temple of ethical culture?

First printed at Get Religion.

TEC’s first gay bishop dies: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 16, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, The Episcopal Church, Utah.
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The Episcopal Church’s first “out” gay bishop has died.  The Rt. Rev. E. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah and former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., died on 26 December 2013 at a hospice in San Francisco. He was 87.

Ordained in 1951, Bishop Charles was elected Bishop of Utah in 1971 and held the post until his retirement in 1986. He served as Bishop of Navajoland for two years before accepting the post of Dean and President of EDS, retiring a second time in 1993.

A father of five, Bishop Charles told his wife he was gay in 1976. Upon his retirement from EDS he informed the House of Bishops of his sexual orientation and announced he and his wife Elvira were divorcing. In 1995 Bishop Charles wrote Breaking the Silence: Out in the Work Place, stating his support for changing church teaching on the morality of homosexual relations. In 2008 Bishop Charles took part in a civil same-sex marriage to his partner Felipe Sanchez-Paris, who predeceased him.

He remained an active member of the House of Bishops in retirement and took up residence in San Francisco, where he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of California.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 89, January 13, 2014 January 13, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Jan 13, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 2013 year in review
13:47 Our 2014 Predictions
22:14 Conversation with Archbishop Duncan
42:04 AS Haley on how to sue yourself
52:31 Closing and Bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 88, December 21, 2013 December 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Dec 21, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index

00:00 An Interview with Dr. Robert Gagnon about Duck Dynasty.
17:53 How we make an Episode while filming an Episode

Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”

Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.

“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”

“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”

“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.

However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.

Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.

Arson kills Maryland rector: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A bizarre church fire has left two dead including the rector of St Paul’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City, Maryland in an incident police describe as arson.

On 26 Nov 2013 a 56-year old man, subsequently identified as John Sterner, entered the church offices located in the ground floor of the parish rectory. Witnesses told police that Sterner’s clothing was on fire and he was screaming for help.

Sterner grabbed a church volunteer and set her clothing on fire. The fire spread then spread to the building. The volunteer was able to escape the building, but firefighters found parish rector the Rev. David Dingwell, apparently unconscious from smoke inhalation, inside the building. Sterner died at the scene of the fire and the two other victims were taken to hospital.

However, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, the Rt. Rev. James Shand, reported Mr. Dingwell died later that day from his injuries.

Police report Stern was unknown to the members of the church and are investigating how he came to be covered in an accelerant fluid. Suicide is suspected as the motive for the crime.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 87, December 5, 2013 December 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 Anglicans have lost the Mother Church
14:38 Piling onto Pilling Report with Peter Ould
33:14 IRS and Clergy Housing Allowances with AS Haley
41:51 The National Museum in Washington DC
48:37 Closing and Bloopers

CBS discovers the Catholic priest shortage: Get Religion, November 26, 2013 November 26, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, The Episcopal Church.
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I am reaching back a bit into my guilt file — stories I want to cover but for one reason or another have not touched. But the recent flurry of news stories about women priests and the Catholic clergy shortage led me to pull this item out of my bag.

The CBS Evening News reported earlier this year that there is a shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the United States. This may be news to some, I suppose, but the story has been getting a bit long in the tooth. However, the news “hook” CBS used in its segment was that the church was using Anglicans to plug the gap — hence the title: “Catholic Church turns to Anglicans to fill U.S. priest shortage.”

Yes, there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the United States.

No, the shortfall is not being met by using Anglicans.

Catholic dioceses in the U.S. and Europe are importing priests from India, Africa and Asia to meet pressing pastoral needs — this story has been told hundreds of times over the past few years in the secular press. A recent example of such stories is this well written piece in Der Spiegel reporting on an Indian priest’s acculturation to Germany.

The article begins with a recitation of the problem, profiling a Milwaukee priest who has the pastoral charge of seven congregations.

Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Father Tim Kitzke. On the Sunday we followed him, the priest said Mass at three different Milwaukee churches, held a luncheon for dozens of parishioners and baptized a baby. Kitzke and one other priest are in charge of seven churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. There used to be a time when 14 priests covered the seven churches. “It’s not only — maybe not the old model … but it’s the old reality,” he says.

The number of Roman Catholic priests in the United States has steadily dropped from nearly 59,000 in 1975 to just under 39,000 last year. But the number of Catholics in the United States has increased by 17 million. Asked if he worries, Kitzke says, “Definitely, yes, we obviously need more priests — that goes without saying, we need more vocations.”

The segment offers facts and figures on the priest shortage and then transitions to a former Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church and has since been ordained a Catholic priest.

(more…)

Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 GAFCON and the ABC
09:56 Allan Haley and TEC Legal Fantasy
22:00 Raceophobic Church
28:56 GAFCON Down Under
42:52 Marriage
4719: Extinct COE
59:00 Closing and Bloopers

Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Nov 14, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Helping the Philippines: 00:00
GAFCON Update 04:16
Fleeing the Churches 16:00
Legal Update 20:06
GAFCON in England 30:07
Closing and Bloopers 47:15

Episcopal Church sees 24% decline in 10 years: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The number of Episcopalians at worship on Sundays in the United States has declined by 24 per cent over the last ten years, statistics released last week by the church’s national office in New York reveal.

The church’s Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in 2012 for domestic and overseas dioceses was 679,923 – a decline of 2.6 per cent from 2011.

In 2002 the ASA for the domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church was 846,640. In 2012 the domestic ASA was 640,142; a decline of 206,498 or 24 per cent over ten years. The secession of the Diocese of South Carolina last year is not reflected in these figures.

Baptized membership declined by 29,679 in 2012 to 2,066,710, the Episcopal Church reported on 31 October 2013, with growth in baptized membership reported in only 33 domestic dioceses. Twelve dioceses saw growth in their ASA in 2012. The Diocese of Nevada saw the greatest percentage and numeric growth in attendance of any diocese, 6.9 per cent or 165 people, while the Diocese of Ohio had the steepest decline: 1,150 or 14.4 per cent.

Are Christians crazy, or just stupid?: Get Religion, October 18, 2013 October 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Seventh-day Adventist, The Episcopal Church.
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There is little new under the sun when it comes to anti-theistic arguments. Whether it be high minded philosophical critique or rabble rousing anti-clericalism, what was old is now new.

Richard Ostling observed in his Get Religion post “Is the ‘New Atheism’ any different from old atheism?” the content of the criticism remains the same, but the tone has changed. The new atheism has taken a:

[A] tactical lurch toward emotion-laden partisanship and take-no-prisoners rhetoric that might make a Fundamentalist blush.

In this week’s Crossroads, a Get Religion podcast, Issues, Etc., host Todd Wilken and I discussed two posts that touched on anti-theism — but approached the subject from different perspectives: French media disdain for religious believers and a “heretical” Episcopal bishop.

While there have been other non-theistic Episcopal bishops, Jack  Spong of Newark was the media  darling of the ’90s. A fixture on talk shows and op-ed pages in his day, Bishop Spong was the subject of a profile written by the Religion News Service that was released in advance of his next book.

Pressed by Todd whether my dislike of the story was motivated more by my theological disagreements with Bishop Spong than journalistic concerns, I responded that I had no quarrel with Bishop Spong being Bishop Spong. What stoked my ire was the the lack of balance, hard questions of context in the RNS piece. It was more of a People magazine puff piece than journalism.

The second half of the story was a review of my criticism of two different accounts of the trial of four French West Indian immigrants in Paris, accused with kidnapping and torturing a fellow immigrant. They have denied the charge, and in their defense have claimed they were exorcising demons from their victim. The journalistic issue I saw was the discrepancy between AFP’s English and French language stories — released at the same time. The English language version noted the defendants said they were motivated to act by the tenets of their Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. But it included the information the four had been expelled from the church some time ago — and that their actions were contrary to that church’s doctrine and discipline.

The French version omitted this disclaimer. Todd asked me why the two versions differed. I said it could have been two different teams at work in the AFP office (French and English language) or it could be an example of writing to the audience’s interests. In the culture of the Anglosphere, religious beliefs and religions have always had a place in the public square. This is not the case in France, where faith is regarded by the elites as a private matter that should not intrude into public life. The French-language AFP article represented a secular worldview that saw no utility in reporting on the religion details. The attitude of the article was that these benighted immigrants were motivated by their weird (Seventh-day Adventist) faith and these odd “Evangelical Christians” need no further discussion.

The attitude is one I have encountered more and more in recent years — one cited by Richard Ostling in his Get Religion piece — that traditional Christian believers are crazy or stupid. The attitude is not new — see Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799), but the tone of disbelief is no longer cultured, more aggressive, and oblivious to the ideas of others. This is the attitude one encounters in the mainstream media, such as AFP. And it runs through Jack Spong’s books. (And this aspect of his work was studiously avoided by RNS in its puff piece.)

Perhaps Todd was correct in surmising that my animus towards the RNS piece was personal. I have been an object of pity from some of my clerical brethren for my beliefs. One bishop asked me how I could believe in such things as the Virgin Birth, bodily resurrection, even though I was well educated.  I was a traitor to my class — “one of us” who had gone over to the other side. I was not stupid, therefore there must be something wrong with me — or I was playing a deep game.

A recent exchange between New York Magazine and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aptly illustrates the contempt religious believers receive at the hands of the media.

Scalia: I even believe in the Devil.

NYM: You do?

Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

NYM: Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …

Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

NYM: Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?

Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

NYM: Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?

Scalia: You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

NYM: I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.

Scalia: I was offended by that. I really was.

Are Christians crazy or stupid? Or are people of faith merely viewed with contempt?

First published in Get Religion.

Interview: Issues Etc., October 17, 2013 October 17, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Issues Etc, Newark, Seventh-day Adventist.
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Here is an to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 17 October 2013.

5. Media Coverage of Bishop John Shelby Spong – George Conger, 10/16/13

George Conger of GetReligion.org

Conservative TEC leader concedes defeat in America’s sex wars: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 5. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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One of the leaders of the conservative remnant within the Episcopal Church has called upon traditionalists to acknowledge their defeat in the church’s wars over sexuality and seek a negotiated peace.

In a powerful address given last month to a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican conference, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a scholar with the Anglican Communion Institute said “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers”, the advocates of change.

The culture and the majority faction within the Episcopal Church held a different moral worldview. It was “no longer a matter of saying the new ways are wrong. That point has passed. “

“We are in a new time. It is now here. We can see a before or after” in the Episcopal Church since the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 and in the rise to power of Katharine Jefferts Schori in 2006. “Traditional Anglicans have lost a battle.”

There is now “no single understanding” of the faith. New Prayer Books will emerge that will solemnize gay marriage. Prof. Seitz noted the question for conservatives is not whether they can stop this but if the majority will allow “two rites [to] exist side by side.”

Encouragement for the conservative remnant “would be allowing the status quo ante. Not a new church allowing traditional Anglicans” a home, but the existing churches giving conservatives “the moral space and right to exist.”

“Will dioceses and parishes be permitted to do what has been done before,” he asked. Will we be given the “moral space to conserve our traditions? Can bishops let go of parishes? Can dioceses choose to say no? Can we [as Episcopalians] remain a valued and trustworthy expression of the church catholic?”

To do this “it may be necessary to change the office of Presiding Bishop, reform the General Convention, rewrite the Book of Common Prayer” or enact other “constitutional reforms”, he said.

But “if reforms are not enacted it would end the conservative presence” in the Episcopal Church, he said.

Memories of Jack Spong: Get Religion, October 11, 2013 October 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Newark, The Episcopal Church.
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Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?

Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by  C.K. Scott Moncrieff. p. 48.

Jack Spong is my petite madeleine.

The former Episcopal Bishop of Newark does for me what a cookie did for Marcel — open the door to bittersweet memories. The taste of the tea-soaked biscuit reminded Marcel of Charles Swann’s destruction that had been precipitated by his unfaithful wife Odette. An article in today’s Washington Post‘s On Faith section from the Religion News Service reminded me (as a priest in this church) of the destruction of the Episcopal Church precipitated by its unfaithful leaders over the past 40 years.

The article entitled “An aging maverick, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has no regrets” is part Edith Piaf — part Soviet Life hagiography. As I read through article I heard Jack Spong proclaim “Non, Rien de rien / Non, Je ne regrette rien” — while RNS went into full bore People magazine puff piece mode. All that was missing was the photo of the smiling peasants with their balalaikas extolling the virtues of the dear leader. One cannot blame Jack Spong for his part, but I do think RNS might be a little embarrassed.

The article opens on a friendly note:

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. — At 82, retired and enjoying life, Bishop John Shelby Spong doesn’t have to be the liberal enfant terrible whose pronouncements for gay rights and against traditional dogmas once scandalized Christendom.

Indeed, many of the views that once turned the former Episcopal bishop of Newark into a lightning rod are now regarded as so matter-of-fact that they barely occasion much notice: ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex marriages, for example, or having a female presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to lead a national church in the Anglican Communion.

And it gets better from here. The good bishop enumerates his triumphs with but slight modesty … but he discounts any direct responsibility.

Yet while he finds the victory deeply satisfying, he says he doesn’t take personal pride in this tectonic shift.“I was simply interpreting a rising consciousness,” he said. “Whether it was race or women or homosexual people, the issue was always the same: fighting against anything that dehumanizes a child of God on the basis of an external characteristic.”Now, he said, “I feel mellow,” his soft drawl burnishing the tone of reflection. “And I don’t think I’ve changed, particularly. I’m just not controversial in my church anymore.”

But RNS tells us:

[T]hose who love Spong — and the many who love to hate him — need not worry: He is hardly going gently into that good night. He seems as vital and youthful as ever, tall and lanky with a shock of reddish hair that still falls insistently across his forehead. He does four miles every morning on the treadmill, and he and his wife travel about 60 percent of the year, mainly at the invitation of audiences who want to hear more from Spong.And he has a new book out — his 24th. This latest one is a take on the Gospel of John called “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.” As the subtitle suggests, Spong reads the Gospel through a Jewish lens, as he has done in many of his works.

It continues in this vein of hero worship. Jack Spong is a mystic — but a rationalist one.

In a sense, following the path of a mystic — like the author of the Gospel of John — only became possible as Spong, the rational-minded Bible scholar, aged. And that process in turn seems to have highlighted Spong’s roots as a pastor and teacher — a spiritual writer as much as a controversialist.

I do not begrudge the old lion his roar and Spong makes fewer mistakes than he is wont to do — he states with confidence that the Gospel writers were all Jews, while most New Testament scholars would argue Luke was Greek, see Lea & Black The New Testament: Its Background and Message, citing Colossians 4:10-11.

But how does RNS expect any but the most gormless of its readers to take this article seriously as journalism? No hard questions are asked of the bishop. Nothing about his tenure as bishop when his diocese was in free fall — collapsing faster than the city of Detroit.  Shortly after Spong retired Robert Stowe England penned a post-mortem of the bishop’s tenure, writing:

Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.

The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves.

Nor is there an appreciation of Spong’s standing as a theologian — apart from that offered by the good bishop. In 1998, before he became Archbishop of Wales then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was one of the leading scholars of the Anglican left — the author of the then standard apologetic for changing the church’s teaching to support same-sex relationships. Williams was not impressed with the Spong’s scholarly acumen.

Dr. Williams’ relationship with Bishop Spong, the author of a slew of books questioning the basic tenet of Christianity, has been difficult. In 1998 Dr. Williams characterized Bishop Spong’s controversial 12 theses as immature. Their implication he wrote “is that the sort of questions that might be asked by a bright 20th century sixth-former would have been unintelligible or devastating for Augustine, Rahner or Teresa of Avila.

Nor do we hear of Bishop Spong’s humiliation at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, when the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold apologized on behalf of the church to the bishops of Africa for “racist” comments made by the Bishop of Newark in an interview with the Church of England Newspaper. Bishop Spong — who in the run up to the conference was a media darling — left the conference early with his tail between his legs.

I write this not to attack the man, but to point out the perils of hagiography for journalists. If you are going to paint the subject of your interview as being a giant among giants — a successful bishop, a provocative scholar and a champion of minorities — you should be sure of your ground.

Here is the key journalistic point: The areas that RNS choose to highlight with the selection of its quotes were also the areas of Spong’s greatest failure. These omissions rob the article of credibility. There are too many missing essential facts.

The bishop and Proust’s petite madeleine are both light and insubstantial things — though the petite madeleine is the size of large nut and the bishop is rather bigger. Yet in an odd sort of way they share themes of the destructive force of obsessions and the allure and fatal consequences of transgressive sexuality.

Jack Spong is a great man, but also a tragic one — while the RNS piece is simply silly.

First printed in Get Religion.

Seek peace with honor in the TEC wars: Anglican Ink, October 6, 2013 October 6, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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Toronto: Conservatives should seek terms for a negotiated peace to the Anglican wars, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Old Testament Scholar and Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a leader of the Anglican Communion Institute told a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican Congress.

The battle had been lost leaving conservatives as “strangers in their own church,” he said, and “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers?”

While engaged in the preparation of a commentary on the Book of Jeremiah while on a study leave at the University of Tubingen, Prof. Seitz stated it was his custom to tread the paths in the forests surrounding the town.  Warming upon this theme, he told the conference participants gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto that traditionalists are being told the “paths of our fathers are wrong paths” and our understanding of God’s plan for salvation has reached its “sell-by date.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Overseas bishop to lead loyalist faction in San Joaquin: Anglican Ink, September 29, 2013 September 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, San Joaquin.
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The Bishop of Waiapu has been tapped to be the next Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s press office has announced.

The Rt. Rev. David Rice is expected to take up his post following confirmation by the diocesan synod. An American expatriate, Bishop Rice was born in North Carolina and trained for the ministry at Duke University Divinity School. He was ordained deacon in 1989 and elder in 1991 in the United Methodist Church in Western North Carolina and served congregations in  the state from 1989 to 1997. From 1991-93 Bishop Rice led a congregation in New Zealand and returned to the country in 1997 to be ordained a deacon and priest in the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.

After entering the Anglican Church the bishop served as a parish priest and was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin in 2002.  In 2008 Bishop Rice was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu on New Zealand’s North Island.  He also was one of four candidates who stood for election as Bishop of Southwest Virginia in March 2013.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 82: September 28, 2013 September 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Pakistan, GAFCON, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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West Virginia bishop authorizes gay blessings: Anglican Ink, September 21, 2013 September 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer has authorized clergy in the Diocese of West Virginia to conduct rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

In an address to the diocesan convention held on 21 September 2013 at the Days Conference Center in Flatwoods, WV, Bishop Kluysmeyer stated that blessings may commence in Advent (Dec 1). Couples seeking a blessing must be baptized members of their church and have been attending for at least six months, he told the convention.

There will be no “right” or requirement that a church must provide the blessings, the bishop said. Before a church begins to solemnize gay unions both the rector or priest in charge and the vestry must agree to allow gay blessings to take place.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church confident it will win Fort Worth fight: Anglican Ink, September 12, 2013 September 13, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High

The Episcopal Church will prevail in its court battle with Bishop Jack L. Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., said this week, arguing the doctrine of neutral principles of law favors their cause.

On 9 Sept 2013 Bishop High and members of the diocesan standing committee along with the national church appointed trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and officers for the Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate met with their lawyers to review the Texas Supreme Court’s 30 August 2013 decision in No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.

In the Fort Worth case the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 overturned a Tarrant County trial court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  The Supreme Court held the trial court erred in deferring to the denominational polity of the national church. The ruling nullified the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in Texas, holding the national church’s property rules had no legal effect in the state.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

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